The Livestock Auctioneers’ Association has agreed with Defra and the Welsh Government some sales of breeding stock can be carried out within newly established protocols which demonstrate social distancing measures.
Back in March, restrictions came into force which saw the sale of breeding stock at livestock marts cease to help limit the spread of Covid-19, with farmers turning to online selling platforms and selling stock farm to farm via auction mart web listings.
Today (April 21), the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA) has issued further guidance to its members, allowing sales of breeding stocks to resume, but stressed this is not a ’relaxation’ of controls.
Chris Dodds, LAA executive secretary, said: “The heightened level of safety measures and security standards adopted by all LAA markets means, by following the same protocols, we have agreed that some breeding sales can commence from Monday April 27.
“Additional conditions will be implemented and extended to the sale of breeding animals, to ensure continued safe trade within LAA marts. This not a relaxation of controls, but an extension to the stringent conditions already implemented to allow for these sales.
“We will continue to work with Government officials to provide reassurance that market activity does not undermine the important public health priorities of stopping the spread of COVID-19."
The association also stated operational changes implemented to protect public health must remain in place, and all markets should continue to vigilantly implement social distancing measures.
Following its discussions with the Scottish Government, the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS) has also confirmed some classes of breeding sales will recommence under the latest guidelines.
IAAS executive director, Neil Wilson, said: “We have been working closely with the Scottish Government to find a workable solution to limit exposure to COVID-19 through marts whilst ensuring the livestock trade continues in a measurable and safe manner.
"Marts form a vital link in the wider food chain ensuring livestock from around the country can be fairly and transparently traded between farmers as well as onward to abattoirs enabling a consistent supply of high-quality primary products into the food chain."
However, show and sales, or sales which would normally generate a large gathering of people, such as special pedigree bull sales, are not permitted under this review.
As with stores sales, markets will encourage buyers to work together, buying on behalf of others where possible to reduce attendance numbers.
Markets were quick to update their customers.
Gisburn Auction Mart, Lancashire, posted on its Facebook page: “We are delighted to announce we are able to hold live auctions of breeding stock again, under strict restrictions on who can attend the market.
“These restrictions are exactly the same as those applied to current sales of fat and store stock which can be viewed on our website.”
North West Auctions, which runs sales at Junction 36 Rural Auction Centre and Lancaster Auction Mart, wrote on its Facebook page: "We are very pleased to announce that the LAA and Defra have extended the rules, allowing us to have live ring sales of breeding stock commencing from Monday April 27."